manufactured by Carl Bamberg, Berlin

Theodolite, tripod

1884, brass, iron, glass, wood

The Bamberg theodolite – a surveyors’ instrument for measuring horizontal and vertical angles – is part of CMAG’s Survey Equipment Collection, comprised of 150 artefacts donated by the ACT Office of the Commissioner for Surveys in 2001. It was used in the Federal Capital Territory survey carried out under the first Commonwealth Director of Lands and Surveys, Charles Robert Scrivener, who had played a significant role in the selection and planning of the Federal Capital site. Following the selection of the Yass-Canberra site in 1908, survey teams under Scrivener’s direction completed a contour survey map of the proposed city’s site which was sent to applicants in the Federal Capital design competition.

In the 1912-13 Annual Report for the Lands and Survey Branch Scrivener states that a ‘…geodetic survey should be the foundation for every other class of survey, the standard to which all other work would be referred…’. He referred to the 8-inch Bamberg theodolite used for this survey as ‘not now rated very highly’ but acknowledged that the results were fairly satisfactory ‘as the average closing error of the triangles observed, having sides averaging from 5 to 10 miles in length, is 1.1 seconds of an arc’. Scrivener was noted for the high quality of survey documentation and the clarity, legibility and attention to detail of his plans and field notes.


brass, iron, glass, wood theodolite when telescope horizontal 335 x 55 cm; tripod 68 x 99.5 cm at ground level

Object number



Social History


Gift of the ACT Office of the Commissioner for Surveys 2001